Archives for category: play

I’m so insanely busy right now.  I’ve got a full time job for the first time in a few years.  I’ll be updating this blog with new stuff once a week, but until then, here is a vintage post.

” I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,

I stand and look at them long and long.

They do not sweat and whine about their condition,

They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,

They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,

Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,

Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,

Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.”

-Walt Whitman


i had thought of taking the train into nyc, but my cousins talked some sense into me and we took in the festivities of first night in saratoga springs instead.

the night before we went snowboarding.  i did an epic side flip off the lift and landed in unfrozen marsh muck.  it was my first time taking the lift to a mountain top.  i did great but almost half-way down, all of my old dancer injuries decided to pipe up.  so, i unstrapped my board and did the booty scooch the rest of the way.  it only took me about 30 minutes.

it was with relief that my bruised body didn’t have to face the hour drive to albany, the 3.5 hour train ride, the subway transfer, the being corralled into a pen, the drunken puking, the waiting and doing that all again at 7 in the morning after no sleep.  instead, i was chauffered (fancy way of saying i bummed a ride with my cousin-in-law and the family in the mini-van) to the springs.

we caught some of the window performers:

some god-awful belly dancing except for this woman who saved it for me:

a great dance fusion group, an irreverent animal handler, and the fireworks.

i did not get a new year’s kiss even though i was scanning the crowds for a worthy random but i intend to rectify that by new year’s 2013.

this morning, i finished up the 20-30 gallons of pumpkin soup (seriously,there is SO much!) i started yesterday, because that is the de rigueur first meal of the year for all good haitian girls and boys.


i am obsessed with sleep.  (OB. SESSED.)  its importance in my life is generally set up according to my sleep needs.  if i don’t get enough, everything gets ugly real fast.  because there is such a real need for quality sleep in my life, i have tended to overdo it.  at some point, the decision to get 9 hours a night was made and the rule is nearly ironclad.

part of being wild is not living by rules, others or one’s own.  (our own rules are usually the most insidious and the best ones to let go.)  the wisest thing to do is to listen to one’s body.  since being back in the western hemisphere, i’m been tired by 9 and wide awake between 4 and 6.  last night, i feel asleep at 10 and was wide awake at 5:30.

usually, i would just stay in bed and coax myself back into a disorienting sleep.  instead, i woke up, grabbed the dog and drove to the beach to watch the sunrise.

now, i’ve seen a lot of pictures of sunrises, but haven’t watched very many since high school.  i was the principal’s kid and had to be at school by 6:30.  (she was my ride.)  here’s the thing that i’ve forgotten.

pictures are not experiences.  there are some photos that are so beautiful, so raw, so eloquent that one can feel that they are having the experience pictured.  but, one is not.

as i walked, then ran, then stood on the sand the wind whipping through my hair, the dog tugging on my wrist and the cold seeping up through the soles of my shoes, the colors changed in the sky.  a few pelican flew fast and low over the water.  the tide foamed at the shore.  my fingertips gelled, my nose ran a little, my lungs felt purified by the fresh air.  there were stars in the sky, then there weren’t as the night was pushed out of the way by day.  and i was there.

of course, i took a picture.  i enjoy taking them, both as souvenirs and as proof to others that i’m having the life they’re not.  (let’s be honest.)

it was then that i realized that although i’d seen hundreds of pictures of sunrises, sunsets, waterfalls, cities, etc., this was the only one that was mine.

millions of us “love nature”.  we watch the discovery channel, animal planet, flip through nature picture books, read about people having grand adventures.  but, it’s all false.  we don’t know nature.  we aren’t experiencing it at all.  we are a population of spectators with no authentic experiences of our own.

imagine a person who is in love with and is having a relationship with someone they have never met but of whom they’ve seen plenty of pictures.  how seriously can you take that person and that relationship?  not very.

these thoughts cut through a lot of my own hypocrisy.  i claim to love the wild, love the outdoors, but if i’m only outside an hour a day, how can i take myself seriously?  how well do i know the object of my affection?

instead of living vicariously through photos of oceans, mountaintops, backyard hideaways, trees big enough to climb, rivers, grasslands or watching show after show documenting animal life, i need to get outside and live truthfully.


no, i don’t have whiplash literally.  only metaphorically.  although, those of you who know my track record with bodily injury wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to know that i have it for real.

before i’ve even had the chance to blog all about my adventures in africa, i’m waking up for the second day in abu dhabi in the united arab emirates.  i’m wearing a dress over jeans with my simple silver coin pendant and feeling unbelievably naked.  the dress code here is cover nearly every inch but the half inch of wrist, the fingers, and the toes need to be dripping in jewels, the shinier the better.  also, i felt the need to line my eyes with dark grey.  i’m working up to black tomorrow.  i usually don’t wear make up.  the women here are like women everywhere.  we all like to be seen.  since the face is the one exposed feature, they are flawless and over the top.  eyes are immaculately outlined and the skin is buffed and powdered to a satiny sheen.  the robes are called abaya, not burqa, actually. (i’ve seen about three women wearing actual burqa.  the burqa are actually metal masks that cover the eyes and mouth.  to me, they are very sci-fi and would look very comfortable being worn by seven of nine.  (geek alert.)  i would love to share pictures of all the different models with you, the sleeve details, the trims, the different black fabrics (silk, cotton, satin-shiny, heavy, nearly sheer) but if i take a picture of a muslim woman, well, this would be my last entry.  okay, so i wouldn’t be killed, necessarily, but i might lose an eye or a hand.  okay, so maybe not an eye or a hand, but i would definitely get in trouble.

anyhoo, as i was saying.  the women’s face are like jewels set in a dark cloud.  one woman even had the most deliberately styled unibrow.  it was like a dove in flight and put my dear frida to shame.

while the women are like dark, beads shimmering on a string, the men are white arrows darting around.  their head coverings float behind them like quivers with the black “head bands” look more like crowns.  my hosting friend explained to me that the black head bands are actually twisted into a figure eight.  it is done this way because when they would sleep in the desert long ago, they would keep one loop around their wrist and one around their camel’s leg to keep them from wandering off.

it is clean here.  like, really, really clean.  from my hotel room overlooking the road, the sound of the traffic never stops.  all night the cars sped past.  if feels more like an amusement park village than anything real.

the first night here, we went walking on the corniche (it’s like a boardwalk but much fancier) and even the sky seemed unreal.  i told my friend, who is hosting us, that i felt we were in a snow globe.  it just feels like a very contained environment where my reality is not allowed in.  it’s definitely a reality here, just not mine.  i am acutely aware that i am in a culture very different from the ones to which i am accustomed.

so far, we’ve walked the corniche.  it was bubbling over with children riding bikes, families picnicking on the grass, in-line skating teenage boys and awed tourists.  we’ve gone to the marina mall and bought water from starbucks, standing in line with young pre-pubescent sheiks (pronounced shakes) in their white robes (kandora) and fabulously draped stylish women.  we’ve gone to the heritage village and museum.  there, they have different small compounds with the traditional housing and tents in which the emirs and the people here used to live.  they are exquisite in their simplicity.  they are remarkable in their intelligent design.  the museum had pictures of abu dhabi in the sixties: it was an oasis scattered with these tents and palm frond huts.  it was, to my biased eye, far more exquisite than this western style parlor illusion that i am seeing around me now.  the village also had some workshops dedicated to the traditional crafts.  i couldn’t leave without a delicate glass candlestick made by an egyptian man who told us that our faces were as beautiful as the moon.  he offered us coffee brewed with cardamom and saffron to wash down our chocolates he insisted we take.  he works there eleven months of the year than heads home to see his three children for one month.

we’ve had indian food in the mall food court that rivals any indian food i’ve ever had.  of course, since this is the closest to india i’ve ever been, it stands to reason.  we’ve sped around in taxis that are more like mini-limos with drivers who really seem to enjoy the wide, straight roads.  we’ve gone grocery shopping in the grocery store that is just like nakumatt in kenya but bling-ier.  we’ve sat in the complimentary steam room here at the hotel.

one of the most amazing things is how well thought out everything is.  the one thing i’ll mention here (only because i’m running out of time…we’re off to our next adventure!) is that the room key to the hotel is also the, well, the fuse box to the best of my electric knowledge. this means that when you unlock your room to come in, you pop the key into a slot and boom…lights.  when you leave, you take the key with you and the electricity is off.  i’m trying to figure out how to do that in my house in the states.  imagine the savings!

on that note, please have an adventure of your own today.  it doesn’t have to be traveling across the globe but you do need to get out of your house and do something awesome.  then, you need to tell me what you did in the comments below.  that is all.

(okay, on the traffic thing:  i’m sitting here typing and my son is having a bowl of cereal.  he just came over to me and said that he figured out the sound of the traffic.  the lamborghinis particularly makes this sound:  mmmmmmyerr poor, mmmmmmmyiam rich.)

so, this past weekend, i was in toronto.  (o, canada!)  the kid and i drove eight long hours so that he could stay in the hotel room and binge on bad t.v. while i was receiving my training as a holistic lifestyle coach (level 1, kids, gotta start somewhere) with the CHEK institute.  it’s been a couple years since i’ve been in a classroom environment and i really enjoyed it.  but, it was clear to me how far i’ve come.  although i had facts to share on every topic (i am mister nigel-murray with girl parts.), i realized how little actual practical application i have in my life.  i’m one of those people who finds great safety in thoughts, safety in the processes of my brain.  facts.  i have a body in theory.

being a wild woman is about having a body in practice, in every moment.

i’ve been getting this message from so many different sources.  somebody told me the other day that our brains can time travel, they can be anywhere: regretting the past, reliving the past, wishing for something that isn’t in the present, yearning for something in the future, worrying about all sorts of different possibilities.  the body is absolutely chained to the moment.  it can’t be anywhere but right now.  and right now is, 98% of the time, just fine, if not better.

if you’re anything like me (and i’m willing to bet good money that if you were born in the past 100 years, you are) you tend to live in your mind, too.

so, how does one get wild with it?

1. be sensually aware

we have five senses. use them.  start with jut two minutes every hour and ask yourself these five questions: what do i smell right now?  what do i see right now?  what do i hear right now?  what do i taste right now?  what textures do i feel right now?

2.  play with dimension

most things that we interact with these days are two dimensional.  the computer screen, the t.v., concepts….but, the body is three dimensional.  move your hips in as many dimensions as you can discover, swing your arms through all the planes they can find, look around and see how many different perspectives you can create.

3. listen

your body is constantly (constantly, kids) talking to you.  100% of truth is found in the messages of the body.  your body wants you to be present with it.  when you don’t listen to it, it will start getting louder and louder until it’s screaming at you and then, if ignored long enough, it goes numb.  if you’ve gotten to a place where your body is numb, it’s really just pissed off at you.  it is giving you the cold shoulder because you’ve taught it that is can’t trust you.  that’s when it’s time to be patient and gentle.  start with little things.  feel the fatigue and go to sleep.  allow yourself to feel the hunger and feed your body.  listen to the fullness and stop eating.  hear the desire to move and let your muscles sing.

since wednesdays kind of suck all around, i decided that they would be the days that i blog about depression.

today, we will learn the opposite game.

it’s played when depression’s voice is the loudest one you can hear in your head.  you’ll know when that happens.  it’s not necessary when you still have the capacity to hear your own loving voice counter negative thoughts, but once all you can hear is the eloquent droning (somewhat like a rather pompous preacher’s sermon) of your depression, it’s time to play.

here’s how it goes:

1. depression tells you to do something

2. you do the opposite

one symptom of depression is feeling overwhelmed so i kept the guidelines of the game to a minimum.

“wild woman, can you give me an example?”

hellz to the ya, i can!

scenario one:

it’s ten in the morning and all depression wants to do is stay in bed with the curtains drawn, under the covers.

 opposite game: get up, take a quick shower, wear something clean, and take a walk.

scenario two:

it’s dinner time and all depression wants to do is eat a german chocolate cake

opposite game: sautee that steak you thawed in butter, plop some salad greens onto your plate and eat

scenario three:

depression’s got “i suck” on a playback loop in the brain

opposite game: “i’m pretty awesome” is repeated like a mantra

since, i’m playing along, it’s time for me to get up and get some lunch.  (gluten and dairy free!)



yeah, i wish.

today was spent sitting in the car, then sitting at the aviation school, then sitting in the car, then falling into the sleep of the dead, then sitting in my living room to type up a forever long annotated bibliography for school.  not wild, kids, not wild at all.

however, my son had a pretty cool day:

what?  a picture of a mosquito?  what’s cool about that?  you say…

ah, if only you had super laser vision, you’d see that that is a plane that my son is piloting.  yep, my offspring, who i carried in my womb, birthed, breastfed and diapered was flying a plane today.

it was his first flight lesson.  he sat in the actual pilot’s seat of an actual plane.  and he flew the darn thing.

the distance from that plane that you see here in the picture is the distance i’m most comfortable being from planes and my flesh was all up in the drivers seat.

whatever.  so what if a fifteen year old boy is cooler than me, right?  right?

seriously, though.  i’m SO proud of him.  his face when he got out of the cockpit after they landed was like a piece of the sun!

my furry feral friends, i hope you had wild weekends away from your computers and gadgets.  the outdoor time with just our bodies, plants, and others always refuels me in ways that nothing else really can. since i’m always on island time, i just found out that may is mental health awareness month, so i’ll be writing a couple times a week about depression.  after this month, it will probably make an appearance at least once a week in my posts.  it’s an important issue to me.

but, today is monday, and i like to let y’all know what i did with my weekend.  i would also really, really love to hear how you spent yours.  hint, hint, nudge, nudge.  below.  in the comments.  like, type it in, people! my weekend started early.  i got to go up to montpelier on friday to visit my new friend.  she’s not paleo, but she’s hardcore weston price.  so in the spirit of open mindedness, i sacrificed myself on the altar of a thai rice ball.  sweet baby jeebus, yum!  it was so good that it is the first thing i report in a weekend chock full of awesome.  it was still warm.  of course, gluten free, which is essential.  (in the spirit of full disclosure, weston a. price was my gateway into paleo eating.)

we wandered around for a little bit.  in town, we walked three stories up to a dance school that i hope to frequent in the fall on a very regular basis.  i really miss dance classes.  yes, zumba, i flirt with you and you’re fun and all, but you just can’t scratch that deep dance itch.  (montpelier also has a kickass crossfit gym.  i really, really miss this one that first seduced me with it’s hardcoreness.  this is how i’m easing into the announcement that i’m moving to montpelier in the fall.

okay, back to the weekend. my friend C asks me, rather nonchalantly, if i’d like to go feed some lambs.  what?  hells to the yeah!  so i got to meet the lambs.

bottle feeding the would sigh after each swig. melted my little wild heart.

after loving on the lambs, we walked up to check out the others that were able to suckle from their moms.  there were 14 of them.  they were frolicking (literally and only when referring to lambs is that verb viable).  they also had a llama and a cow to keep them company.



(i’ve labelled them to avoid confusion.)

after the animal time, a.k.a. future buffet recon, we went to her house and snacked on raw cheese, chopped veg, and fermented veg.  we then went to a party and supplied beef sliders and roast turkey.  so yum.

saturday was supposed to be my son’s first flight lesson.  most teenagers rebel with drugs, sex, piercings.  mine can’t.  so, he rebels by deciding to be a pilot.  it’s all very passive-aggressive.  he knows i’m terrified (terrified!) to fly.  born with no wings, no hollow bones and all seems to be proof enough to me that i shouldn’t.  i digress.  his lesson was cancelled due to bad weather.  (vermont, up yours!)

so, he went to spend the night at his buddy’s place.  that’s right, kids.  the wild woman had the place to herself.  she celebrated by watching this movie while awaiting the rapture, going for a run (A. RUN.) with the dog, and ate fish smothered in onions that had been sauteed in almost a cup of butter and a red wine reduction.

first, the movie.  i love this kind of shit.  i would love love love to be a spy and hit man, with all those sweet skills.  but not like in real life, cuz it’s actually pretty boring, all that data collection.  i love the adventure.  but, in my dream, i’m never in any REAL danger and when i find my target, i fire a dart with a slow-release drip of chocolate.

secondly, the run.  after watching jason statham, i always tend to have a mysterious surge of energy.  hmmmm….i chose to pretend i was ‘on a mission’ by tethering the dog to my waist with his leash, putting on my vibrams and heading out the door.  kids, i was surprised by how far i went!  i think that the three things that factored into the distance were: 1. it has been a really, really long time since i’ve run, so i wasn’t burnt out.  it’s not my favorite thing to do.  2. i was on a trail i’d never been on before, so it was novel.  3.  jason statham crush chemicals.  i also didn’t stress myself about it.  it wasn’t a “workout”.  it was just me and the dog out having a good time.  so, i would run, sprint, walk, rinse, repeat.

third, the fish.  it was supposed to be steak.  but, the aforementioned kid put the steak back in the freezer instead of the fridge. the onions were already golden, soft in the butter and the wine, so i just grabbed some frozen fish and let it stew together.  not my first choice, but, butter and wine and onions all combine in a way that the rest doesn’t matter all that much.

of course, the house to myself meant i could get naked and walk around.  so good for the wild soul!  shed those clothes as often as you possible can!

oh, and, yeah, there’s this little thing that happened, too.

if you can't guess, here: my hair is purple in some places.

clearly, someone watched far too much of this as a kid.

sunday was equally full of fun.  the kid came back.  we hit the rocks by the river near our house.  both of us in our vibrams.  i’m still too cold to go completely barefoot.

the water is brown because of tannins, not sewage.

for dinner, since the kid was back, no fish, no onions, no wine.  but, i’ve done my best to raise him right, so it was steak….sauteed in butter.

that was my weekend.  hit me up with your adventures.

george mallory apparently said when he was asked why he needed to climb everest, that he had to do it “because it was there”.

why must we head outside and be wild?  because it’s there….for now.  not to be debbie downer all over your day, but, the wild is disappearing.  both the external wild that beckons from the out of doors and the internal wild voice that pushes to be true to your animal self.

so, after visiting my cousin like a quadra-dozen times, i finally hiked the mountain that is only a couple miles up the road from her.

when i took off that morning to climb it, her hubby told me that he’d see me later that afternoon.  i was back in two and a half hours.  the hike itself took me about 1 hour 45 and i took my time getting to the top and hung out a little bit in the tower.  i felt like a rockstar.  and to toot my own little horn (it’s not the size, kids!), i hiked up that mountain all the way to the fire tower at the tippy top in a dress (i don’t know why more people don’t do this.  it’s SO much easier to pee on the trail!) and nearly barefoot with the pup in tow.

i loved this trail because it was so varied.  some patches were really, really rocky.  others were mossy paths.  then, there were boulders to climb.  one point, with rock walls scaling up on each side, looked like the broad gates to another dimension.  one place looked like a meadow.  on the way up, there was one 200 foot stretch that was shrouded in mist.  one the way down, the mist shattered into teeny, tiny rain drops.

my furry, feral friends, if there is an unexplored corner that exists in your familiar territory, this is the time to wander through it.  walking up this trail, sometimes actually gripping rocks to climb, hopping over snow-melt streams, and at one point getting second wind and sprinting up through a little gorge reminded me of who i truly am.  all the titles (mom, sister, daughter, student, writer, funny-girl, cousin, bla bla yada yada) fell away one by one as i climbed.  it was just my legs, my heart beating, my skin breathing, and my sweat glands earning their keep.

so this past weekend, it was a mountain.  it doesn’t have to be so dramatic.  is there a path near your house that you’ve never walked?  a trail that you’ve never ridden down?  a puddle of water you haven’t splashed through?  a tree you haven’t yet climbed (or just hugged…not to get all fruity on you)?  a corner of your backyard that you don’t haven’t sat in?

go outside today, find a new place, and GET SOME.  then, send me some pictures of your outing.

here, for your visual enjoyment, are some pics of the mountain adventure:

rock it, man!

almost to the top, it gets "meadowy"

can you tell that i'm a mom who's sick of carrying other people's shit?

the fire tower. notice the cables near the top. they were keeping that baby on the mountain.

from the top of the tower-the great sacandaga river off in the mist

resting and smiling at the top of the mountain.

"you're turning violet, violet!"*

a breeze had come through and scattered the path with white blossoms. this pic doesn't do it justice.

back to the bottom (isn't that green psychedelic? no retouching!)

my cousin and i are a lot alike.  we look alike-well, mostly.  she’s the long, tall, thin version of me and i’m her with curves to spare and 8 inches taken off the top.  personality wise, we are both pretty wild.  each in our own way, but untamed we are.

she’s always fun to hang out with because where i love to talk about all these really cool ideas, she’s the one with the follow through.

i introduced her to this book a few months ago.  i’ve yet to make a recipe from it, but she’s done at least three or four by herself.  this weekend i spent with her, she decided it was time to follow yet another one.  dandelion wine!!!!!

when i was a little girl, i went outside because it was there. (thank yougeorge mallory!)  as i got older and became more of an indoor pet, i needed a siren call.  herbs were it.  they were what got me back outside to forage, play, seek out the green mysteries.  i’ve made plenty of tinctures and oils, but wine?  not yet.

here’s what you’ll need to make five gallons of wine: (five gallons????? what do you take me for wild woman, a lush?  nope.  but this shite is tasty and it takes a year to make and you won’t be drinking alone.  this is for sure a community celebration kind of thing-both in the making and the tasting.)

a SHIT TON of dandelions-2 cups of blossoms per gallon.  (we-and by we i don’t mean me-picked 10 tightly packed cups worth of blossoms to make….FIVE.  GALLONS.)

golden raisins (1 lb per gallon)

oranges/lemons (2 each per gallon)

sugar (2 lbs per gallon)

a packet of wine yeast (we used champagne yeast)

a five gallon crock or clean plastic bucket

car boy and air valve (or go old school, use empty apple cider gallons gleaned from your healthy food store and use either a balloon or one of those condoms that you’ve been meaning to use cuz you bought it in such an optimistic moment…i digress)

a bunch of willing kids (i think this may be the most important ingredient.  my cousin and i did a lot of talking and giggling about who knows what in her kitchen while our collective four kids were off in a field picking dandelions.)

and several liters worth of patience.

you can get the book or do a google search to find instructions for the specific steps or this will be the longest. blog. entry. ever.

i will touch on the highlights.

when both of our families, totaling 8, were sitting out of the porch making up songs and BAD raps while the sun set around us as we freed the yellow blossoms from the green sepals.  her daughter, my comedic soul mate (the one person in this world who may ACTUALLY be funnier than me!) figured out a fantastic twist and pull method that decreased the frustration level of this task by a factor of 15.

discovering that those darn kids had actually picked EXACTLY enough for our recipe.  like to the blossom.  PRECISELY ten cups of bright yellow flowers.

washing the antique five gallon earthen-ware crock that my cousin scored from her mother-in-law.  (all i ever scored from mine was a bad taste in my mouth for mother-in-laws.)

breathing in the aroma of 10 cups of dandelion blossoms, orange juice, lemon juice and raisins.  it’s like nothing else i’d ever smelled but close to so many things.  it is almost like mown grass.  it is almost like a new flower.  it is almost like candy.  yet, it is like none of these things.

adding sugar.  and then more sugar.  and then more sugar.

everyone in the house having to stir the slush mess with the huge wooden paddle, obsessively.  even my cousin-in-law, all 6’2 mountain man of hisself.

two days into the fermentation, i nickname the crock the “pot o’rot”.

watching the past three episodes of glee with my little cousin and turning the sound down during the commercials to gush about puck’s hotness.  in the pauses, we would hear the pot o’rot gurgle as the yeast feed and bubble.

here’s the basic procedure in pictures:

blossoms, peels, and raisins. yep, we ran out of the goldens.

introducing the white death-meant for the consumption of yeast and yeast only, kids.

the yinnish yanginess of it all.

squeals the sugar, "i'm melting, i'm melting." (sorry...too easy.)

first stir of millions.

these little buggers will eat the sugar and we get wine. what a tradeoff, suckers!

full crock

two days later-notice the way that the pot o' rot seems much fuller (it's all the yeast farts!) i had a better pic but couldn't resist the lurking kid.

this project is the best of the wild world.  lots of outside time, using an ingredient that most people pour pesticides onto (suckers!), laughter on top of giggles layered with guffaws, community, and, at the end of it all, shifted consciousness, in this case, wine.